Intimations of Frank O’Hara
by Bryan R. Monte
San Francisco, October 1982
Walking into Cafe Flore on a Friday night
You stare at me looking so much like Frank O’Hara
That I gasp and run to the bar for a drink
But I come back and you’re still there by the window
And I sit down to admire your short, black hair
High forehead and skin white as bread dough
As you talk about Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s Christabel
And the Harvey Milk Club’s political endorsements for this fall.
You’re so beautiful that when you brush away a moth
Men walking by on the street think you’re waving at them
And they wave back
And you tell me you paint in a Japanese style
And ask if I write and what I think of Modern poetry
And I say the problem with Modern poetry is that
It has no feet or hands or eyes
But sits at home like an old, blind hermit
Surrounded by souvenir pillows
Hoarding its syllables.
And your friend Dan joins us
Arguing as a Neoplatonist for the supremacy of ideas
Especially with regards to the Iranian Revolution
And we both turn him off because we know
One’s self worth is directly proportional to one’s paycheck
And you tell me you work as a waiter in North Beach
And make adult toys for a Folsom Street store
And Dan breaks into our conversation saying
Students at Berkeley don’t talk they only argue
And for that we turn on him
Show him the defects in his argument
And make him walk home alone.
You walk me to my doorstep:
Can I use your phone?
I put my arm around you and ask you to stay the night.
Wet or dry, warm or cold
Lying in the milky light that floats
Three stories down the airshaft to my window
And granulates your skin in a vaporous glow,
Rain tapping all night against the sill.
I compliment you on your long legs
And you answer that my proportions are much better
And I warn you that a man is not equal to the sum of his proportions.
My hands curl the hairs on your legs
And I feel the bed fill with heat
And I remember you need only half as many blankets
When you sleep with someone
Even in the coldest parts of San Francisco.
If the sun were rolling down the street
Like a noisy trolley burnishing its tracks
Maybe I’d sleep in and we’d spend the day together
But it’s a rainy Saturday morning
And I’ve got to go to work as a security guard
At a senior citizen’s high-rise in Oakland
So I get up and make us some omelettes
My hands amazing me with their 6 AM dexterity
Cutting the cheese and onions into neat squares
Folding the parsley in with the eggs
And you ask me why I want to be a poet
And I point to the window and answer:
I want to read the Braille of the rain
That dances in puddles on the patio
I want to hear the song of the streamlets
That knock like veins on a skylight window.